The Supreme Court, on Tuesday, deferred till December 5, hearing of an appeal that is seeking to invalidate the years that Senator Hope Uzodinma spent in office as the Governor of Imo state.
Though the appeal, which has stayed over three years in the docket of the apex court, was initially fixed for hearing on Tuesday, however, the proceeding could not hold.
Officials of the court merely informed the parties that the hearing had been postponed till the new date.
The All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, had in the application, sought the removal of Governor Uzodinma from office.
APGA contended that there ought to have been a fresh election in the state after the apex court nullified the election of Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The party noted that the apex court had before Ihedioha’s election was voided, in a separate judgement, declared that Uche Nwosu who came second at the governorship poll that held in 2019, had dual nominations.
The apex court had held that Nwosu allowed himself to be nominated by both the All Progressives Congress, APC, and Action Alliance, AA.
APGA, whose candidate came third in the election, had while Nwosu’s appeal was pending before the Supreme Court, brought an application to be joined as an interested party in the matter.
It equally filed an application for an order, directing the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to conduct a fresh election in Imo State within 90 days.
According to the party, a fresh election was necessary since in the eyes of the law, Imo State has no duly and validly elected governor, going by two judgments of the apex court in appeals number SC/1384/2019 and SC/1462/2019.
“In the eyes of the law, the absence of a duly and validly nominated/ sponsored by a political party as a constitutional precedent, has made it imperative for INEC to conduct a fresh election in Imo State”, counsel to the applicant, Mr S. I. Nwoga submitted.
It will be recalled that the apex court had in the first appeal, held that Nwosu contested and won the primaries conducted by the APC on October 6, 2018, and his name forwarded to INEC as APC’s candidate for the March 9, 2019 governorship election in Imo State.
It, however, voided his nomination on the premise that he “knowingly allowed himself to be nominated as the gubernatorial candidate of two political parties.”
The apex court held that by Section 37 of the Electoral Act 2010, his nomination was invalid.
Therefore, APGA, through its legal team, pointed out that the apex court, in its judgment in the second appeal number SC/1462/2019, wherein the then governor, Ihedioha of the PDP was sacked, did not establish that Senator Uzodinma was duly nominated by the APC.
“Indeed, this court rightly noted at page 9 of its judgment in appeal number SC/1462/2019, Uzodinma vs Ihedioha, that the issue of the 1st appellant’s nomination by the 2nd appellant did not arise.
“Consequently, there is no decision of this court that has determined or establish that Senator Hope Uzodinma is the duly nominated/ sponsored governorship candidate of the APC in Imo State as stipulated by Section 11177(c) of the Constitution,” APGA added.
While praying the apex court for permission to be joined and heard in the substantive suit that was filed on July 9, 2020, APGA, which polled a total of 114, 676 votes to come third in the gubernatorial contest, prayed for an order of the apex court, “excluding the APC and Action Alliance (AA) from participating in the fresh governorship election in Imo State within 90 days.”
Over three years after the application was filed, the apex court communicated the initial hearing date to the parties through a notice dated October 16, 2023, which was signed by one of its Registrars, Usman Bature.
Aside from APGA, both the PDP and the Action Peoples Party, APP, equally filed fresh appeals wherein they urged the Supreme Court to give effect to its 2019 verdict that disqualified Nwosu on the ground that he was nominated by both the AA and the APC.
PDP is asking the apex court to restore its candidate, Ihedioha, back to office, since the APC was precluded from sponsoring two candidates in the Imo State governorship election.
In an affidavit it filed in support of the application, which was deposed to by a legal practitioner, Adedamola Farokun, PDP, averred: “The third Respondent/Applicant (PDP) is neither in any way seeking a review of the valid, subsisting and well considered judgement of this court delivered in this appeal in 2019, nor seeking a review of the judgement of this court delivered on January 14, 2020 in SC/462/2019, but humbly seeking that this court give effect to its judgement delivered on December 20, 2019.
“That this court has the constitutional, inherent powers and jurisdiction to grant the reliefs sought and give effects to its judgement.
“That it is in the interest of justice for this court to exercise its wide discretionary powers in favour of granting this application as prayed.”
The deponent, Farokun, averred that Uzodinma was not the candidate of the APC based on the court’s judgement that Nwosu was nominated by both the APC and the AA.
PDP urged the Supreme Court to hold that “both the AA and APC did not sponsor and/or field any candidate for the governorship election held in Imo State on March 9, 2019 in view of the double nomination of the Appellant/Respondent by the two political parties aforesaid, and his subsequent disqualification as their gubernatorial candidate, as found by this honourable court in its judgement.”
It argued that in view of the fact that governor Uzodinma did not contest the election as an independent candidate, there was no legal basis for him to be recognized as the validly elected governor of Imo state.